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Sony Xperia XA1

Sony Xperia XA1 Review

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Quick Specs Sheet:

  • Dimensions:
    • 145 x 67 x 8 mm (5.71 x 2.64 x 0.31 in)
    • Weight: 143 g (5.04 oz)
  • Display:
    • 5.0 Inch IPS LCD Display (Resolution: 1280 x 720 (~294 ppi pixel density) Scratch-resistant glass (>9H)
    • Up to 4 fingers in multitouch
  • Processing Specs:
    • CPU: Mediatek MT6757 Helio P20 ( Octa-Core 4 x 2.3 GHz Cortex-A53+ 4 X 1.6 GHz Cortex A53)
    • GPU: Mali-T880MP2
    • Android v7.0 Nougat
  • Storage and Memory:
    • 32 GB (4 GB RAM)
    • microSD support available
  • Imaging Processor:
    • 23 MP f/2.0, 24mm, back camera (PDAF, Laser AF and LED Flash available)
    • 8 MP f/2.0, 23mm, front facing OIS camera
    • Video: [email protected], HDR
  • Battery:
    • Non-Removable Li-Ion 2300 mAh

 

Quick Review:

Compared to the Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra (the phablet version) the normal XA1 is a normal, smaller, version of the mid-range XA1 line up. It features a smaller display of 5.0 inches with a smaller resolution of 720p (1280 x 720) with less pixel density of ~294 ppi. This translates to a display with sharpness levels below that of the older brother, the XA1 Ultra. However, we must keep in mind that the phone is a mid range device with mid range specs. Don’t expect a fancy display here. With such a low resolution and low pixel density the XA1 may not be the best option for media consumption and other tasks. It will simply work as intended.

Aside from the confusing naming scheme the XA1 is found to be the least interesting device amongst Sony’s current 2017 line up. While Sony’s Xpera XZ is showcased as the device with a 4K HDR display and the older brother, the Xperia XA1 Ultra, showcased as a simply huge 6.0 inch mid range phone, the Xperia XA1 feels like a minor update from last years model, the XA.

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The design resembles that of other Xperia phones so far. It is not bad, rather we do like it in some ways. It has a striking design and is small enough to be somewhat lost in your deep pockets. The display is 5 inches which is a full inch smaller than the XA1 Ultra, but the problem does not end there. The display shows a lack of vibrancy and is simply dull without life. We have seen many other budget phones released with displays fantastically more vibrant and alive than the XA1.

Aside from the few bits of issues we have observed, the  XA1 does follow in its elder brothers footsteps, notably the camera. The Xperia XA1 uses the same camera found on the Sony 2015 flagship, the Xperia Z5. This is a 23 MP f/2.0 aperture camera module. The front camera is an 8 MP f/2.0 but this camera lacks optical image stabilization which is found in the selfie camera of the XA1 Ultra.

Given the track record of this particular camera module we expect good results in various lighting. The processor found in the XA1 is the same Helio P20 found in the XA1 Ultra as well. The processor is not the strongest available (hence the mid range category) and will not give you the best of the best. 3 GB of RAM is sufficient and is a good decision on Sony’s part to keep things running as smooth as possible while covering for the loss of performance values due to other components. The XA1 only comes with a 32GB internal storage configuration that can be expanded via a microSD card.

The battery is smaller in this model with a 2,300 mAh pack. We will need to wait for official release to see how the processor will impact the battery performance in the future.

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Sony XA1 Ultra Review

Sony XA1 Ultra Review: A New Phablet for the Mid-Range Market

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Quick Specs Sheet of the Sony XA1 Ultra Phablet:

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  • Dimensions:
    • 165 x 79 x 8.1 mm (6.50 x 3.11 x 0.32 in)
    • Weight: 188 g (6.63 oz)
  • Display:
    • 6.0 Inch IPS LCD Display (Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (~367 ppi pixel density) Scratch-resistant glass (>9H)
    • Up to 4 fingers in multitouch
  • Processing Specs:
    • CPU: Mediatek MT6757 Helio P20 ( Octa-Core 4 x 2.3 GHz Cortex-A53+ 4 X 1.6 GHz Cortex A53)
    • GPU: Mali-T880MP2
    • Android v7.0 Nougat
  • Storage and Memory:
    • 32 GB (4 GB RAM)
    • 64 GB (4 GB RAM)
    • microSD support available
  • Imaging Processor:
    • 23 MP f/2.0, 24mm, back camera (PDAF, Laser AF and LED Flash available)
    • 16 MP f/2.0, 23mm, front facing OIS camera
    • Video: [email protected], HDR
  • Battery:
    • Non-Removable Li-Ion 2700 mAh

Quick Review

This phone has a massive display of 6.0 inches. The phone is also rather large to hold in the hand. The specifications aim at the middle range of the smartphone market with its Mediatek Helio P20 Octa Core processor. It’s predecessor the Sony XA Ultra was also a large 6.0 inch phablet back in 2016.

On top of the display we found that the camera module was pretty interesting as well. There is a 24 MP rear imaging sensor which was also found on Sony’s flagship model from 2015. There is an 8 MP front facing selfie camera as well. We expect the pricing of the Sony XA1 Ultra to be reasonably low, thus, for the price the photographic abilities of this phone should be good.

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Given a good day with good lighting outdoors users may be pleased with the strong shooter on the back camera module.

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Going back to the design of the phone this is a large device with a 165 x 79 x 8.1 mm dimension. The only reason one would buy this phone would be due to the desire for a large phone. Due to the enlarged 6.0 inch display that 1080p panel won’t look as sharp as we are all used to thanks to higher end devices released for quite some time now. Regardless, the colors on the display are good with impressive contrast ratios and the Octa-Core Helio P20 processor is strong enough to prevent lags or trouble while using the phone.

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In terms of performance the XA1 Ultra also comes with 4GB of RAM on board giving the phone a solid boost.

Conclusion:

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The  Sony XA1 Ultra is a mid range phablet phone. The specs are very mid range but are good enough for daily tasks and most gaming tasks. For those who are looking for a big phone but also cannot spend a fortune on high end devices need to look no further. The Sony XA1 Ultra is a strong contender for the phablet category in the middle range market.

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Huawei P10 Plus Review

Huawei P10 Plus Review

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We reviewed the Huawei P10 earlier which is the “younger brother” of the more beefier Huawei P10 Plus. The Huawei P10 Plus comes with a larger display of 5.5 inches and the display is upgraded to a Quad-HD (from the Full HD display found on the regular P10). The phone is noticeably larger in size but other than that the differences are found internally. The Huawei P9 of last year was the companies last flagship device. The P9 is highly regarded as an excellent phone that can compete against big league rivals from the likes of Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony.

Huawei P10 Plus Specs Sheet:

  • Dimensions:
    • 153.5 x 74.2 x 7 mm (6.04 x 2.92 x 0.28 in)
    • Weight: 165 g (5.82 oz)
  • Display:
    • 5.5 inch IPS-NEO LCD (2560 x 1440 resolution ~ 540 ppi pixel density)
    • Curved Edge Screen
  • System:
    • Android OS, v.7.0 (Nougat)
    • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 960 (Octa-Core 4 x 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8GHz Cortex-A53)
    • GPU: Mail-G71 MP8
    • RAM: 4 GB
    • Storage: 64 GB (microSD support up to 256 GB)
  • Camera:
    • Dual 20 MP + 12 MP, f/1.8 OIS, Leica lens’
    • Front: 8 MP f/1.9
  • Hardware:
    • Battery: 3,750mAh capacity

Design

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The P10 Plus is the regular Huawei P10’s older brother. It is a beefier, higher spec’ed device with more RAM, and a bigger, better display panel. Despite the new hardware we still found the P10 Plus to be more of an evolution from the older P9 than a revolution. The build is a full metal construction with the home button found on the front which doubles as a fingerprint sensor and a hub for various gestures which replace on screen navigational buttons. This means users can swipe to go to your recent apps, tap once to go back and tap and hold to activate your “home” button.

The design of the P10 Plus reminds us of the iPhone 7 in many ways including the antennae bands and the curve of the edges. In collaboration with a company called “Pantone” the P10 will be released in various colors including: Dazzling Blue, Rose Gold, Prestige Gold, Ceramic White, Mystic Silver, Dazzling Gold and Graphite Black. A new color called “Greenery” will be offered as well.

As mentioned, the P10 Plus will come in an all metal build with various color options available. Even though the P10 Plus is found to be the larger phone it still manages to sit comfortably in the hand and it does not feel to cumbersome. The dual camera does not stick out from the body and sits flush at the back. With a smooth chamfered edge all the way around, it was comfortable to play with. The USB-C Port and 3.5mm headphone jack is found at the bottom.

Performance

 

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The phone is runs on Android 7.0 but also has Huawei’s own custom skin called EMUI 5.1 on top. The usage response was smooth and there were no notable lags. General tasks should not be an issue in high end phones at this point in time of fast advancing technology.

The P10 Plus is loaded with the new HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset. This is also found in the younger brother the Huawei P10. Huawei also engineered a new memory optimization instruction set into the phone which offers machine learning methods. This method enables your phone to properly optimize memory functions based on usage patterns over time. For the average user this may not be obvious at all as it involves gradual micro adjustments by the system contributing to an overall better usage experience into the future. In addition the memory optimization tool integrates a memory compression algorithm which reduces the size of apps and other software materials into a smaller size to maximize your RAM.

Huawei is offering a 4 GB RAM and a 6 GB RAM option.

Camera

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This year, Huawei and Leica is continuing on their strategic partnership together in the Leica branded dual camera module. The Imaging set up has some notable changes in both the hardware and software front. A portrait mode was implemented which is similar to the “super bokeh” portrait mode found on the iPhone 7 Plus. This mode blurs the background behind your subject to create that artificial “bokeh” effect.

The difference from the iPhone 7 Plus is that the Huawei P10 Plus will not have a “zoom” lens as its second camera. Rather the dual camera works together per image to process lighting on the subject’s face and reduce issues found on the photo. The colors are also made to “pop” a bit more compared to iPhone portraits. Interestingly the same features are found on the 8 megapixel selfie camera as well which has a bright aperture of f/1.9.

The selfie camera on the front now comes with face detection that also calculates how many faces are found on the image. The Portrait mode will then defocus the background based on this given information. This will bring into focus all the faces available and defocus the rest of the background.

The dual camera on the back feature dual f/1.8 Leica Summilux lenses. This is significant as this means that the P10 Plus will have two bright lenses available. Low light photography will be more feasible thanks to this. This brings the P10 Plus super close to the Pixel and G6 night shots. The P0 Plus overall proivdes a great camera experience thanks to the better lens found on it.

Early Verdict

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The P10 Plus did not fail to impress many attendees at MWC 2017. The phone showcased high end products inside with an advanced chipset, new software that optimizes memory storage, and a fancy design language. The array of colors made available are quite interesting to see as well. We look forward to the officially released version of the hand set and to see its real world performances as reported by us and by users world wide.

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Huawei P10 Review

Huawei P10 Review

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CellUnlocker Review:

Cellunlocker Score: 4.1/5.0


 

Verdict:

The P10 is the younger brother of the bigger and spec heavier bigger brother the P10 Plus. Even so, the P10 still offers a slew of good features for it’s price. It is a good looking handset which can be really considered by users who may be using phone’s that are a few years old. Mainly, the P10 is marketed for it’s imaging capabilities as Huawei touted their “Co-engineered by Leica” banner. The P10 will come with dual-cameras. The P10 does feel like a worthy successor to last generations P9. The device is also touted to having All Day Battery Life.


 

Quick Spec sheets:

 

  • Dimensions:
    • 145.3 x 69.3 x 7 mm (5.72 x 2.73 x 0.28 in)
    • Weight: 145 g (5.11 oz)
  •  Display:
    • 5.1-inch 1080p IPS-NEO LCD touchscreen (~432 ppi pixel density)
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Internal Specs:
    • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 960 (Octa-Core: 4 x 2.4 GHz A73 cores + 4 x 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 cores)
    • GPU: Mali-G71 MP8
    • Android 7.0 (with Emotion UI 5.1 on top)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 32 GB internal storage (microSD support)
  • Camera:
    • 20MP monochrome sensor + 12MP RGB sensor (F/2.2 aperture)
    • 8MP front camera (f/1.9)
  • Battery:
    • 3,200mAh battery
  • Available Colors:
    • Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Graphite Black, Dazzling Gold, Dazzling Blue and Greenery

 

 

The Huawei P10 feels like a good successor to the P9 if you need a smaller display as well. The specifications are high end, especially the camera, all except the display. We found that the display does still look good but it is a FHD (1080p) display.

Design

The design of the P10 is one of the more interesting talking points, it kind of looks like a cross between an iPhone 7, a One Plus 3, and a bit of a Galaxy S7. In other words, it looks great.While it may look similar to the previous Huawei P9 flagship model as well, there are some obvious design changes. The edges are a bit more curved but not as curved as the current competition thus making the phone a lot easier to handle. The power button has an indented design so that users can easily differentiate between the power button and the volume buttons. The finger print sensor is no longer found on the back of the phone but is now placed at the front on top of the capacitive home key. Huawei is also approaching a minimalist design and they are calling it “organic minimalism”.

Following the idea of organic minimalism the home button took on a new form. It is still a non click touch key but it retains 3 functions you would normally find on an android device. To go Home you must long press (for a short time) the key, to go back you simply tap it, and to open up recent apps you must swipe the home key. We figure that users will get used to this and become a lot more efficient at utilizing this new method than what new users would be able to manage at first. Huawei claims that this feature will be a lot easier to utilize compared to Android’s usual on-screen soft buttons. According to the company Huawei also integrated an “Ultra Response” feature which predicts and tracks your usage habits. This enables the software and hardware to predict where your finger might go next taking action before your action is complete (this theoretically should reduce latency between action and response with your device).

The P10 retains the 3.5mm head phone jack (thankfully) and also provides a USB-C port on the bottom. The lone speaker is also found at the bottom of the phone. The phone has a full-metal unibody design. Huawei included two “Dazzling” color options that provide a shiny/reflective metal body which looks quite…. spectacular.

Display

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The P10 uses a Full HD 1080p display. This is sufficient for a lot of folks as it provides enough sharpness and detail in videos and images. However, in a time of quickly advancing display technologies we at least expected a bump to QHD panels. Huawei did include a QHD panel in their P10 Plus model. The display certainly looks bright enough and should be view-able in sunlight. The display is a 5.1 inch IPS LCD panel. A 5.1 inch panel is considered an optimal size for being small yet big enough to comfortably play back media content and information back to the user. The viewing angles are also quite wide to view comfortably. Full HD resolutions are not as sharp/crisp as Quad HD displays but we do not think this is necessarily a bad thing. It retain’s it’s own abilities to perform in the display department.

It is also important to note that the P10 uses an IPS-NEO panel which means that blacks are improved compared to regular IPS displays. IPS-NEO also brings wider viewing angles to the table. While AMOLED displays have seriously deep blacks, IPS-NEO enables something good enough but not as deep. We had a problem with screens being too “cool” in regular IPS panels and the IPS-NEO panels seems to alleviate this with clean colors, and high brightness options.

Performance

Huawei loaded the P10 with a custom skin that they call “Emotion UI 5.1”. This is a skin slapped on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. While Nougat is great, some may have issues with Emotion UI 5.1. There are many reasons to like and dislike custom manufacturer skins on top of the main OS core. We believe that diversity in the user interface brings about the uniqueness of Android. Huawei included a new feature that they call “Ultra Memory”. This is a function that recycles memory faster in the background enabling the phone to run smoothly.

The P10 uses the HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor. This comes with the new Mali G71 MP8 GPU coupled with 4GB of RAM. The Kirin 960 silicon, on paper, puts it up there against high end competitors such as Exynos and Qualcomm. The processor is a big improvement over the P9 flagship of last year.

You would not have any issues with performance on the P10. The processor is blazing fast, you have the latest GPU integration on board, and due to all of this navigating and surfing through web browsing and settings showed no signs of slowing down. However, as others have also experienced there was some issues when trying out games. The phone tended to heat up during performance. We do not think this would cause any big issues though.

Camera

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The Huawei P10 has integrated dual cameras developed by Leica. This is a pair consisting of a 20MP monochrome sensor and a 12 MP RGB sensor. According to Huawei, this set up allows users more expansive photography options in a wide array of situations including low light circumstances. The camera will be able to create more realistic bokeh (shallow depth) and a more accurate black and white photo.

We always enter the conversation about phone cameras with a grain of salt. If we wanted to do some serious photography with attention to details and function, we would always go to our DSLR or mirrorless cameras. However, no body, at this time, can beat the convenience of having a good camera on something thin, light, and stylish that is carried everywhere with you. Given this, sure, the P10 may not be the worst performing camera nor will it blow you away with its images but it is still a big improvement from past years. The P10 is equipped with capable software that can render photos with cool effects such as super shallow depths of field (out of focus back grounds).

For low light photography the camera is alright. Compared to other smartphones on the market that are marketed as high end the P10 is not the best but will get the job done. As with any smartphone, you will face a fair share of noise the images will look quite over processed. The P10 does underperform in dark arenas compared to the likes of the iPhone 7 and even the Galaxy S7 devices. We sort of blame this at the phones smaller aperture of f/2.2 compared to the wider apertures of f/1.7 in the s7 and f/1.8 found on the iphone 7. The Pixel also has an aperture of f/2.0 which is slightly larger than the P10’s lens but the Pixel does produce good photos.

The camera is pretty good. We would like to make an emphasis on this. The software is snappy and fast, and we found zero lag when shooting. The phone won’t over sharpen your photos nor distort your color space when the lighting is good and so users would be quite happy with their purchase. The back camera can record 4K video at 30fps as well or FullHD at 60fps.

The camera app also comes with a manual control function setting, custom monochrome / portrait mode, and impact filter options. The camera app also enables users to perform basic touch up work on your images.

The front facing camera is an 8 MP f/1.9 which delivers great selfie’s in low light and normal. The low light part won’t blow you away but it works.

Battery

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The Huawei P10 has a 3,200mAh, non-removeable battery, which is rather large for a 5 inch device. The P10 typically loses between 8-12% battery life per hour while streaming videos at 50% screen brightness. The phone’s battery life does last you all day with moderate usage.

Conclusion

The P10 is a great addition to the market. New adopters of the phone will thoroughly enjoy what it has to offer. The design looks great, the screen is sharp, and the performance of the phone is up there with the competition. The camera works fine, though it can be a bit underwhelming in low light. The phone has an older brother called the P10 Plus which has beefed up specs for a tiny bit more payment. If that bit of payment is too much and if you are in the market for a smaller device the P10 is a worthy consideration.

 

 

 

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Review Is a Top Choice for Comfort

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Review

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CellUnlocker Summary:

Rating: 4.9/5.0


 

Keyboards are an important part of any office job, writer, business man, and enthusiasts. Most keyboards are designed as flat rectangles that simply work. The flat design of keyboards can actually contribute to carpal tunnel and injuries from repetitive movements such as typing. According to Microsoft, our hands (while resting on the table and outstretched) are at a bit of a slant and are not perfectly flat when in their natural state. Most of us force our hands into a flat positions to accommodate our flat keyboards.

Microsoft seems to have been hard at work to figure all this out and to design an ergonomic design that would help people prevent injuries and provide a more comfortable typing experience. That is where the Microsoft Sculpt  Ergonomic Keyboard comes in. It is a fantastic peripheral that helps you get your job done but at the same time prevent any damages that would have otherwise happened to your wrists.

The keyboard has a wavy design and is curved upwards in the middle of the keyboard. The design is also known as a “manta ray” design. There is a split middle and from the split we see downward hills out towards the sides. The keyboard is thin, sleek, and light. The keyboard is also quite small as it does not have a number pad attached, rather it is detached as an additional accessory. Being small in size enables users to carry the device around. The keyboard also ships with an added number pad (detached) and a matte plastic stand that you can simply place underneath the front end of the keyboard which raises your hands as well.

The Sculpt Ergonomic is great at keeping good care of your wrists which is its main purpose and selling point. Microsoft describes the angle and slant as a “natural angle” for your hands, wrists and arms. There is a wrist resting pad as well on the front end of the keyboard. The cushion is not as soft as we would like but it does it’s job better than hard wood desks.

The keyboard has strangely enlarged keys (especially the keys at the center) due to the “split” design. It may take some time to get used to the keyboard but once that is mastered the keyboard is a joy to type on. The key’s are large and give a pretty nice “chiclet” style feedback but with deeper actuation’s. The angle this keyboard enables users to type in is the optimum typing position that enables users to stay comfortable and get their jobs done.

A bit about the Build…

The keyboard is mostly plastic, the plastic in between the keys are of the glossy type while the key caps are matte plastic (along with the underside). Black is the only color option we have seen. The space bar has a nice clicky feel to it and is also separated into two segments (left and right space bars). This enables you to use either thumb which are already resting on the space bars to take action when needed. I found it quite fun when alternating between each thumb. The front end where the palm of your hands (wrists) rest is covered in a soft rubbery clothe material. It is not super soft and pillow like, but there is firmness to it and we believe it does provide a level of comfort. The keyboard is not bluetooth, but it is wireless using a wireless receiver USB dongle. The USB dongle is non-replaceable so be careful. The keyboard uses two AAA batteries and they last a very long time. In our tests we found that the keyboard still operated after 2 months of usage which includes daily article write ups, and a lot of emails.

In Conclusion…

We have tested this keyboard throughout the years and found a lot of this to be true. Compared to it’s flatter counter parts the Sculpt keyboard truly takes off a lot of strain off your wrists. Writing thousands of words per day, everyday can take a toll. We have felt it before in a lot of different cases. If you are in the market for a truly comfortable, sleek, light and compact keyboard that was built with your wrists in mind, we recommend you to take a look at the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. This summary was written with that very keyboard.

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Sony Xperia XZ Premium: “Best New Smartphone for 2017

Sony Xperia XZ Premium: “Best New Smartphone for 2017

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Sony has had a strange past in terms of smartphone identity. It was confusing at best with all the naming schemes involving X’s, Z’s and Y’s with all the same Xperia prefix. Regardless, the Xperia XZ Premium is a solid piece of device with great innovative features. It is basically Sony’s best work all combined from different departments (from audio, imaging, to displays) into the XZ Premium. We expect this device to cost a lot which should be comparable to super high end phones such as the coming S8, LG G6, and other flagship phones.

Pros:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Processor
  • 4K Display
  • 807 ppi pixel density
  • HDR10 support
  • Large screen and good build quality

Cons:

  • Battery capacity is underwhelming
  • Most likely Expensive

Specs Sheet for the Xperia XZ Premium:

  • Dimensions:
    • 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm (6.14 x 3.03 x 0.31 in)
    • 195 g (6.88 oz) (Weight)
  • Body:
    • Front and Back: Corning Gorilla Glass 5 panels
    • IP68 dust/water proofing
  • Display:
    • 5.5 inch IPS LCD display
    • 3840 x 2160 resolution (~807 ppi pixel density)
    • HDR10 / Triluminos Display / X-Reality Engine
  • Platform:
    • OS: Android v7.1 Nougat
    • CPU: Snapdragon 835 (Octacore Kryo custom cores 4×4 configuration)
    • GPU: Adreno 540
  • Camera:
    • Main 19 MP f/2.0 aperture camera
    • 25mm focal length / EIS (gyro based stabilisation) / predictive phase detection + laser AF
    • Video: 2160p @ 30fps, 720p @ 960 fps
    • Front Camera: 13 MP, f/2.0 (23mm focal length)
  • Others:
    • 3230mAh battery capacity (non-removable)
    • 3.5mm head phone jack (24-bit/192kHz audio support)

 

Sony brought back 4K displays with the XZ Premium and this was a surprise for many. For what seemed like a nonsensical feature that wouldn’t work out any time soon on a previous Xperia phone (Xperia Z5 Premium) the 4K display made a strong return. The 4K display actually looks good. The Xperia XZ has all the necessary high-end stuff necessary to compete against its rivals (notably the S8, LG G6 and others). This includes features such as: the Snapdragon 835 chip, 5.5 inch 4K display, Android 7.1, higher water/dust resistance, and HDR support.

Sony is good at developing and manufacturing imaging sensors and lens’. We can see evidence of that in their line up of phones. Slowly but surely we see a “mobile” edition of a super high end feature found in their modern mirrorless cameras (such as gyro stabilisation) make its way into their top end phone. Sony’s knowledge and hand in the TV display and audio departments are invaluable as well as shown by the brilliant 4K display and strong audio suite including a 3.5mm headphone jack with enhancements to the bit rate to improve sound quality.

Design

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The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is pretty much a phablet. In fact, most high end phone’s are. Due to everybody making phablet sized phones the Xperia XZ Premium can be considered rather compact compared to other beefier phones. We say this is compact because it is easy to hold in one hand and operate. The power key is found on the right hand side of the phone which doubles as a finger print scanner (fingerprint sensor is missing in the U.S. version).  Sony’s research over the years to figure out where the users thumb would fall on easiest may have paid off here. Sony positioned the power key perfectly to accommodate this (we wonder how this will play out).

The XZ Premium is super glossy. It is an all glass and metal design (but mostly Gorilla Glass 5) so we will definitely see high levels of finger prints, and glare. You can use the phone to check out your own reflection if you so need to. The Chrome colour variant exaggerates the glossy finish compared to the darker colours. Better break out those microfiber clothes.

Display

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One of the most talked about feature in this phone is the 4K display. The device comes with HDR support (which was first seen in the late Note 7 device) which provides a noticeable difference when watching movies and performing other tasks on the device when active. For the HDR function to work you would need to be watching content that supports HDR in the first place. Basically this would enable more details in darker parts of the scene and make colours a lot more deeper / saturated. What the Xperia XZ Premium does better than LG (at this point in time) is that the Sony phone can stream 4K content as well (while LG will need to provide an update).

In terms of sharpness, clarity and colour in the XZ Premium is wonderful (at least in the demo video shown). We will need to look at it in further detail once we have the phone in our hands. Many content creators such as Netflix have already created a large library of 4K productions that we should not have any issues in getting our hands on them.

A mind blowing trait that the 4K display brings is also the ridiculously high ppi of 807 ppi pixel density. This is awesomely sharp and detailed which is perfect for virtual reality and just about everything else. It will be a joy to watch content and play games on the XZ Premium.

Camera & The Dawn of the Slo-Mo Mobile Era

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As mentioned, Sony is great at designing and putting together photography / videography equipment. It is a fact that Sony (who provides the camera modules for manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and others) somehow could not deliver the same amount of real world performance in their own phones when compared to their competitors. The XZ Premium reduced the amount of megapixels on the back of the phone from 23MP down to 19MP this time around (Samsung S7 Edge with one of the best camera’s has a 12MP camera sensor). Sony’s camera module on the XZ Premium, however, contains a max aperture that is smaller than some high end phones with the best camera’s around (f/2.0 on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium vs. f/1.7 found on the S7 EDGE 2016). The amount of f-stops is almost negligible for a smartphone camera but f/1.7 is a larger aperture providing more light nonetheless. We were hoping for Sony to follow suit in this area but we do recognise that doing so may potentially hinder other functions. (The Google Pixel has an aperture of f/2.0 and still takes amazing photos).

Sony included their Motion Eye sensor feature into the camera module as well. This apparently enables the XZ Premium to process images almost 5 times faster than normal. This means that the phone can take pictures before you even capture the image (the camera hardware + software determines via prediction as to what the best image would be). This would enable users to get clearer results when shooting something in motion (like in sports or on the mountain while snowboarding with your buddies). This technically does beat the regular way of shooting in auto. We hope that the XZ Premium will be able to take good photos in normal mode as well.

The Slow-motion function is fantastic and fun. We will definitely be able to see some cool creative projects and little video uploads in 2017. The camera will be able to shoot at 960 fps (frames per second) which blew our minds initially. This is unheard of for a smartphone. The video recorded from the tests looked great and turned out fantastic compared to other smartphones. There are some trade-offs to consider here; this mode can shoot only in 720p and due to the high fps rate the system will need to crank up the ISO which introduces a lot of noise as you move into an area with less light availability. Also during shooting the camera is zoomed in (the frame is narrower) compared to a wider shot.

Slow motion features in a smartphone is a new thing that is slowly coming out and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium does a really good job. It can definitely be found at the top of the food chain amongst other upcoming high end phones.

Battery Life Questions

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The phone is not yet released so we cannot test the battery life. However, there are some question’s that are easily raised. How much power will that 4K HDR display consume? Will the battery which is rated at 3230mAh be big enough? By keeping the phone slim (as per Sony’s decisions) the battery most likely had to also be slimmed down. Qualcomm touted their next generation Snapdragon 835 to be 40% more power efficient under certain circumstances compared to the Snapdragon 821 of 2016. However, we are not so sure what that would really look like in the real world. Snapdragon 835 chipset’s will be able to provide a 21% boost in performance OR a 40% boost in battery life, so whether or not your battery life will be lasting or a big drain is determined by your software configuration and other optimisations made by the manufacturer. It is possible, that the 3230mAh battery may not be enough to support the fire power kicking inside the Xperia XZ Premium.

Conclusion

Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium was awarded the ‘Best new Smartphone’ for 2017 during MWC 2017 by the GSMA. We also do agree that the XZ Premium touts some of the best hardware we have seen yet and with such premium build quality whats not to like about the phone? The only caveats we had was that the battery capacity is a bit underwhelming. Other than that, the 4K resolution, crazy high 807 ppi pixel density, next gen CPU/GPU chip, next gen camera functionality, and high end protection on the front and back brings the device together into a powerful tool that many would be able to enjoy.

 

Nokia 3310 Makes a Stunning Return at MWC 2017

Nokia 3310 Makes a Stunning Return at MWC 2017

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Do you remember when your parents carried an old Nokia device? When cellphone’s started becoming commercialized there is a legend of a device called the Nokia 3310. The Nokia 3310 is a phone created many years ago. It is a “brick” style device which had a strong following and has it’s own culture and meme happening in the world. Nokia (now owned by TCL) decided to re-release the classic device with a modernized update. It is a low cost device with a rather nice feature set and extremely long battery life. This would be the best phone to get if one were to look for a retro device or a back-up phone. Yes, the classic game of snake which first shipped with the Nokia 3310 mobile devices is back as well.

Design

The Nokia 3310 is not the exact model, shape or form of the older 3310 of the past. The buttons on the front are similar in terms of shape and its border around the display. The device is made of cheap plastic (just like the old generation 3310) so this is actually a welcome feature. The phone is chunky and each button has a ha  rd core cheap plastic feeling to it. It is the best. The color choices are all mostly bright-neon type colors which feels rather playful and up to date with today’s style. (Some may say that the colors are tacky).

Display

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The Nokia 3310 has a display of 2.4 inches with a resolution of 320 x 240. This is certainly a huge upgrade compared to the original 3310’s monochrome 1.5 inch display. This modernized 2017 Nokia 3310 is an escape for those who want to get away from all the fancy 1080p or 3K displays you would find on most phones. It is like a place of rest from all the competition between all the many manufacturers.  The display is brightly lit and is big enough to provide content that is easy to see, read and navigate.

Performance

We sort of expected the Nokia 3310 to have an updated operating system and application list but all this did fall apart with reality. No, the Nokia 3310 will not have instagram, snapchat, and the usual social apps. It is the bare, stock Nokia 3310 ecosystem (with an updated Snake), the old SMS messaging, and a phonebook to give people a call from.

Navigating is a bit choppy, which reminds you of the classic 3310. This phone is pure nostalgia. The device run’s Snake easily which is a part of the Nokia 3310 identity. The game did receive an overhaul. The snake is a lot more animated now, and the little bits of food are now juicy fruits. Compared to the black and white version of the game this new snake game is a bit too overwhelming in terms of design. We still love how snake is introduced as a keynote for the Nokia 3310 (2017).

Battery life and Connectivity options

Battery life won’t be disappointing. The display is small and has little impact on the battery. The phone can be left on standby for up to a month before it needs to be charged. You can also call someone and stay on the phone for 24 hours. The Nokia 3310 also has a 3.5mm headphone jack that plays your music. This is something the Nokia 3310 does better than the latest “high-end” iPhone.

Camera

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The 3310 isn’t meant for camera. Don’t try to compare it to anything today. The camera is also meant for nostalgia, which means that the imaging is slow, jittery, and takes pretty bad pictures. Think back to your ancient phone you had during high school, yeah, now picture that on the Nokia 3310.

Conclusion

The Nokia 3310 is a blast from the past. This is the most nostalgic phone with a strong cult following that I would not be surprised if everyone had one as their back up phone by the end of 2017. The phone is also cheap so we won’t have any issues in breaking any banks. Given every detail thus far we view the Nokia 3310 as a modernized time machine for many people. It will take you back even if it is for a moment.

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Leakiest Galaxy S8 Images (Clean Images)

Leakiest Galaxy S8 Images (Clean Images)

We have been following the Galaxy S8 leaks scene for a while now and the following images are the clearest, most reliable photos we have ever come across. The reveal date for the S8 is set to March 29 by Samsung. So it may be no surprise at all that a clean leak was, well, leaked a few weeks before launch. Evan Blass is a reknown leaker who really specializes in Samsung devices before they are even revealed to the public officially. Recently he tweeted a few photos that pretty much seem to sum up what the phone would look like. It fits the look and description of previous leaked Galaxy S8 photos and leaks as well as renders people try to “recreate”. m8eN3FgNP9DRj5PuR2DZNk-650-80We can clearly see that the the S8 will indeed have a double edge (like the S7 Edge did) and prominently thin bezels. The display will be sharp with punchy colors thanks to the Super AMOLED display. The home button is indeed gone and most likely moved to the back side beside the camera. The display is truly edge to edge from left to right and very close top to bottom. It is a lot sharper than the LG G6’s edge to edge display. We can see that the navigational buttons also got a make over from the standard Google triangle, circle and square to a more futuristic design. Refinements to the Samsung Grace UX looks very promising with simpler designs as usual. We can see that the Front side (at the top) contains the camera with a wide aperture and other sensors including: light, and an Iris Scanner.

Finally, we are assured that the Galaxy S8 will continue to carry on the important tradition of supporting the 3.5mm head phone jack. The device also has an extra key under the volume rocker which we assume will be an extra accessory button for launching applications. This button, however, could be used for launching Bixby, Samsung’s own integrated AI.

Just check it out below:

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It looks as though Samsung is throwing everything they have ever developed on this device. With extremely thin bezels, curved displays, fast processors and hardware and the highest quality in materials. It looks very thin, long and quite sizeable. Samsung’s Note 7 initially had big impacts on the company which, over time, did not actually cause too much damage. The S8 is expected to fill in pretty large shoes here that which the Note 7 has left behind.

Let us know what you feel about the design and what could possibly be running the Galaxy S8 below!

Blackberry KeyOne Preview: QWERTY is Back!

Blackberry KeyOne Preview: QWERTY is Back!

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Blackberry is going back to their roots with their next flagship Android device, the KeyOne. Owned by TCL (who also owns Alcatel) Blackberry made a new debut at MWC 2017 as a launch party. Notice anything about the device? You got it, it resembles an old school Blackberry but with an Android twist.

Pros:

  • Blackberry custom security implementation for business is very strong
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Excellent classic tactile keyboard
  • Performance is good enough
  • Great build quality

Cons:

  • Design could be found as a bit odd by some
  • Display is an awkward size due to keyboard
  • Device is top heavy when holding by the keyboard
  • Budget CPU decision

Full Blackberry KeyOne Specification Sheet:

  • Dimensions:
    • 149.1 x 72.4 x 9.4 mm (5.87 x 2.85 x 0.37 in)
  • Body:
    • Keyboard – QWERTY
  • Display:
    • IPS LCD 4.5 Inch (1620 x 1080) (~434 ppi pixel density)
    • Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Internals:
    • OS: Android 7.1 (Nougat)
    • CPU: Snapdragon 625 (Octa Core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53)
    • GPU: Adreno 506
    • 3 GB RAM
    • 32 GB Storage (microSD support available)
    • Battery: 3505 mAh battery (non – removable)
  • Camera:
    • 12 MP, f/2.0 PDAF dual LED back camera
    • 8 MP Front facing camera (1080p)

 

First Impressions

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The Blackberry KeyOne aims at a specific crowd of smartphone users: the people who appreciates Blackberries classic keyboard design. The KeyOne is a flagship device that retains Blackberries iconic identity in terms of hardware and software yet still manages to keep up to date with the latest popular operating system. If we were to talk about keyboards it is Blackberry who got it in the bag. For many years in the past the Blackberry devices were the king of physical keyboard experiences. With the KeyOne we are pleased to find this feature making it’s return to the market.

As fans of the older Blackberry with the pure hard plastic prowess of the BB Keyboard we all grew up with, we actually found the KeyOne to be very pleasant. People who are seeking out a physical keyboard experience may need no look any further. It is a blast from the past.

KeyOne Keyboard

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Thanks to the physical keyboard the BB KeyOne was set apart from the crowd. It combines todays Android 7.0 software, Blackberry DTEK series security, and the old Blackberry Classic’s hardware and creates a nostalgic experience that manages to be up to date.

Immediately you would feel the benefits of having a QWERTY layout with good tactile feed back with each press. Without a doubt, a keyboard is very different from the touchscreen counterpart. The keyboard also acts as a touch screen module allowing users to simply slide their fingers up and down over the keys to scroll through pages. This feature was also found on the Blackberry Passport.

It isn’t the most elegant solution, however. During our tests we found the scrolling to be a little bit rough and was not as smooth as it would be with regular touchscreen scrolling. Other than the track pad feature of the keyboard we found that the space button also acted as your fingerprint scanner. The space bar does not act as a home button (that is found among the capacitive buttons on screen).

UI and Performance

BlackBerry-KEYone

While the keyboard brings about nostalgia we are still hit with a smack of modern reality with an updated software running on the KeyOne. We see Android Nougat (7.0), we see a stock Android experience, Google Play Store, and a super high security encryption technology integration that pleases world class governments. Unlocked Keyone Blackberry

We see similar efforts in this industrial security sector found in Samsung’s and Apple’s portfolio with Samsung Knox and iOS 10. However, Blackberry seems to have this right so far and it may be an important stepping stone for BB to come back strong.

The system uses an older Snapdragon 625 chip and 3GB of RAM. While the performance won’t be stellar or high end, it is good enough. We are pretty far in our technological rabbit hole that even the most budget chipsets can provide excellent performance experiences in various devices. For what it’s worth, the KeyOne provided good enough performance compared to other high end models out there.

We see 32 GB of storage with microSD support as well so storage should be quite adequate.

Display and Design

The KeyOne does have a strange display. The display is a 4.5 inch touchscreen with a 1620 x 1080 resolution. This is because the keyboard takes up the bottom part of the device. While it may be a worthy sacrifice to endure (a trade off in order to satisfy our guilty pleasures for physical button mashing) some might wish for a bit more screen real estate. Especially in our current time of increasingly huge displays and shrinking bodies we rarely see display sizes below 5 inches anymore. It may take some getting used to when viewing videos on the 4.5 inch display after using a large display (if you had one prior).

Remember that the device is still physically larger than the Blackberry Classic. This means that users may still need to grasp this device with both hands in order to operate it or to type. We noticed that the phone may be a little bit top heavy while holding thus it gives it a bit of an unbalanced sensation. People with large hands may still be able to manage one handed usage.

The Android navigation keys are above the keyboard which may prove to be quite annoying for some. We are so used to having these important navigational buttons on the bottom of our phones, but we may need to get used to it for when using the KeyOne. We hope that the keyboard will have some programmable settings to offset some of the navigational functions onto the keyboard itself and give us a bit more display space.

The KeyOne has its power button on the left side, while the volume rocker sits on the right side. Below the volume rocker sits a “quick access” key which launches any apps that you point it to.

Finally, the KeyOne is kind of thick compared to today’ sleek phones. Some will like this added heft while others may have an issue with it. We like it. It gives it more substance and the textured back feel great in the hand by providing grip. The KeyOne is certainly not a phone that has the same sexy factor you would expect from an iPhone or a premium Galaxy device but we want to give credit to Blackberry and TCL for creating a well-built flagship in their own way.

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